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Our Annual Pulitzer Preview: Who Might Takes A Prize?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Our Annual Pulitzer Preview: Who Might Takes A Prize?

Article excerpt

Handicapping the Pulitzer Prizes is always a bit of a crapshoot. Especially this year with no dominating catastrophes, unless you count the economy, of course.

That issue actually could see one or more awards with the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or Washington Post -- or other major dailies -- battling for supremacy. But, at the same time, many have criticized press coverage of the economy leading up to last fall's crisis. The other major story of 2008, of course, was the presidential election.

The preliminary awards competitions settled already this year did not provide many consensus picks. Still, with the Pulitzer jurors preparing to meet next week in New York to choose finalists in the 14 journalism categories, we will attempt to highlight those that appear to be frontrunners.


-- Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick of the Detroit Free Press seem likely finalists and potential winners for their coverage of the Detroit mayor's scandal, in which Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was forced from office and sentenced to jail time on two felonies. The Free Press reporters obtained text messages and other evidence that led to the mayor's downfall. Their work has already earned them a George Polk Award, a Shorenstein Goldsmith Prize finalist nod and a secondary mention in the USC Annenberg School's Selden Ring Award competition.

-- Selden Ring winners Sandra Peddie and Eden Laikin of Newsday are also in contention for their uncovering of special government district corruption on Long Island.

-- Another in-depth report already garnering multiple awards notice is The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer's investigation into the local poultry industry. The five-person team that investigated how a local company ignored and threatened injured workers led to congressional hearings, a federal investigation and penalties to the company.

The Observer has also garnered a Goldsmith finalist honor and an American Society of Newspaper Editors award. Look for the paper's series in any of several categories, including investigative, local and public service.

-- Another local news competitor is the Omaha World-Herald, which took an ASNE award for its coverage of a deadly tornado that killed four Boy Scouts.


-- Former Pulitzer winner David Barstow of The New York Times looks to challenge for the national reporting prize for his "Message Machine" coverage that uncovered the practice of using former high-ranking military officers as broadcast commentators who had ties to the Bush Administration and defense contractors. Barstow's work has already resulted in a George Polk Award and a Goldsmith Prize finalist mention.


-- International reporting finds several worthy candidates that have already received notice. Also from The New York Times are Barry Bearak and Celia Dugger, who won a George Polk Award for risky coverage of violence in Zimbabwe. Paul Salopek of the Chicago Tribune, a two-time Pulitzer winner, garnered his own Polk honor for coverage of the United States efforts to fight terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

-- Tom Lasseter and Matthew Schofield of McClatchy Newspapers are likely to receive recognition for their in-depth four-part series on torture at Guantanamo Bay. It included some eight months of reporting and interviews with 66 former detainees.


-- Two Washington Post series in the running include Debbie Cenziper and Sara Cohen's "Forced Out" investigation that revealed how local landlords drove tenants from rent-controlled apartments. …

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